Knowing her husband is serving the country gives Emily James a lot of pride.
While she has mixed feelings because he’s far away and will be there during the upcoming holidays, a project at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Seymour, Brownstown and Jennings County gives her some comfort.
Kids are making Christmas cards and ornaments and collecting items for care packages for James’ husband and others in a U.S. Army unit stationed in Texas.
Having served as the Seymour club’s program director since July, the east Tennessee native said it has been great to see the kids show how much they care about and appreciate the soldiers.
“If people want to donate their own Christmas cards for us to send, that works, too, but I think it’s really important to have those kids do it because it means a whole lot coming from them,” James said.
She recently read some of the cards made by the kids, and that made her smile.
“They really know a lot more than I think I probably did at that age,” James said. “They really understand, and they are really sweet with it and they really take it serious. Sometimes, we’ll have coloring contests or whatever for other things and they don’t take it as serious, but when it comes to this, they get really serious about it.”
The project ties in with Boys and Girls Clubs of America celebrating National Military Family Month.
For 30 years, the organization and the U.S. Armed Services have partnered to provide support and services to military-connected youth on- and off-installation, including free club memberships for youth who have a parent serving, according to bgca.org.
When the local club’s staff met to discuss how to celebrate National Military Family Month, James said they decided to send care packages to the 84-member unit with which her husband is serving.
Through Friday, all six sites are collecting donations of items such as coffee, tea, granola bars, nuts, candy, playing cards and whatever else the soldiers may enjoy.
“Hopefully, we get more donations,” James said. “We’ve only had a few, but they’ve been good things that we can send and they are really going to love.”
Local club members also are making cards and ornaments to put in the care packages.
“We wanted the kids to make ornaments and things for them to have because we know they are missing their families during Christmas,” James said.
Olivia Wallace, 11, used green paper for her card and wrote the message “I hope you guys have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” and drew a deer inside.
“I hope it makes them feel happy and loved by other people,” she said. “It makes me happy because it will go to someone special, and they really need the boost of self-esteem and happiness. I like making people happy.”
She said it has been a great project for club members.
“I think that they do really well in defending the country, and they do it all and risk their lives to protect us and people they don’t even know,” Wallace said of those in the military.
James said her husband has been in the military for about 10 years. He previously served with the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve and recently was promoted to captain in the Army.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “He’s sometimes very humble about it, and I’m more of the very excited, proud type.”
Having an opportunity to work with kids at the Boys and Girls Club is a dream job for James.
She said she has enjoyed talking to the kids about her husband and his service. Through the Indiana Kids program, club members participate in a lot of career sessions, and James said several have expressed interest in the military. Some have a parent who serves.
That makes the current project even more meaningful.
“The community pours so much into us, so we want to really show that back to them and show these kids what it means to care about other people,” James said.